St Johnstone defender James Brown has opened up on his fitness and form struggles this season.
The full-back will face St Mirren at McDiarmid Park on Wednesday night, a few weeks after a mistake he made against the Paisley side sparked a second half collective collapse in what turned out to be Steven MacLean’s last match in charge.
“When it rains, it pours,” as Brown put it.
And since then it’s been a case of rebuilding his game under a new manager.
“I’ve been the first one to hold my hands up,” said the Malta international. “I was nowhere near where I should have been earlier in the season.
“You can either whinge about it or you can get yourself through it, which I have tried to do.
“You just have to take it day by day, game by game.
“It will always happen in a career at some point.
“I made a few mistakes before that and when it rains, it pours sometimes. That’s how it felt.
“It’s tough. You’ve got to face up to it and accept it. I haven’t been good enough.
“Off the back of that, we lost the old gaffer so that sort of compounds it.
“Football moves on quick. A new manager comes through the door and everyone has a clean slate.
“You can sulk or you can just be the best you can be and that’s all I can do.
“You have to be mentally strong in those moments and have good people around you to help, which I do.
“Eventually if you do the right things, you come out of it.”
Levein’s observation that improved fitness will have a knock-on effect on the team’s performance tallies with Brown’s assessment of his own game on the back of an injury-impacted pre-season.
“I’ve not been myself,” said the former Millwall man.
“I struggled with injuries and form, especially earlier in the season.
“They sort of come hand in hand and I’m probably still not where I need to be.
“But we are trying to get there. The boys are working really hard on the training ground.
“You can see the levels were there against Celtic until around the 60th minute when we did start to tire.
“It’s step by step.
“Something the manager is big on is improving that aspect and there are a few boys who missed pre-season and the early part of the season.
“As we know, sometimes it’s very difficult to recover from not having that base to build on.
“Statistically, you are less inclined to pick up injuries through the season with a proper pre-season.
“In my case, it’s down to a tee.
“I’ve come back and picked up injuries and missed training for a week here and there.
“You never pick up any rhythm and that’s tough as a footballer. The boys playing week in, week out have really benefitted from that.
“I’ve found out this season how not having a solid pre-season can affect you.
“But we’re in December now and you can’t keep blaming that. You need to go out there and do it yourself.
“Eventually it will all hopefully come together and we can start picking up better results. Performances are certainly trending in the right direction.”
Becoming a new dad has put 25-year-old Brown into the veteran category in the space of just two months.
“It’s aged me about 10 years already!” he joked. “October 7 – a little boy, Jenson, it’s been great, really rewarding.
“Me and my missus are sharing the night feeds but the night before a game I’m buzzing because it’s the spare room and I get eight hours!
“Until it actually happens you don’t realise what you’re getting yourself into! Some days are tougher than others but I wouldn’t change it for the world.”